Ecology of wild and hatchery-born Pacific Salmon in the Nitinat River on Vancouver Island, BC.
Location: University of Calgary
The Rogers lab at the University of Calgary is currently looking to recruit a highly motivated MSc student in Ecology and Evolution to research the ecology of wild and hatchery-born Pacific Salmon in the Nitinat River on Vancouver Island, BC. This position would start September 2019.
Pacific salmon are vital resources in the ecological and human communities in which they occur. However, many stocks of these species have declined from historical levels due to a combination of factors. A widely employed strategy within North America to bolster such stocks is the use of hatchery enhancement. Hatcheries use captured broodstock (breeding individuals) to produce fertilized eggs which are reared through the egg-to-smolt (seaward-migrating juvenile) phase and then released to the wild. Despite their widespread use, the long-term effectiveness of hatcheries and their effects on wild fish remains uncertain.
The project will take place within the context of a larger NSERC-funded strategic project in which Coho salmon have been raised under traditional hatchery practices and under enrichment practices aimed at producing fish that more closely resemble their wild relatives. Using a combination of genetic screening and traditional marking strategies, the fates of these fish can be tracked towards testing the ecological and genetic consequences of enhancement. The exact questions addressed by the MSc project are negotiable but should focus on aspects of how wild-born Coho and hatchery-born Coho from both treatments behave (in an ecological sense) in-river. Potential questions include but are not limited to:
- Do juvenile and adult phenotypes vary in association with enrichment treatment?
- Do returning adults from these groups select different microhabitats for spawning, either increasing or decreasing competition?
- What are the distributions of individuals from these groups across the river system, both when returning and as young before migration to sea?
- Do individuals from these groups tend to mate assortively due to common learned mating behaviours?
A field season sampling adults returning across the Nitinat for genetic material is currently being planned for the 2019 migration (starting November) and should form the basis of a large component of the project. Lab-based behavioral and / or physiological experiments involving young Coho will also be possible. Whatever the final experimental design, the MSc student should expect to work closely with a PhD student and Post-Doc currently working on aspects of the larger project, as well as our partners, including the Nitinat River Hatchery, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Dididaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations.
This project has the potential to be based out of either the University of Calgary or the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. Behavioural and / or physiological experiments on young would be performed at the BMSC. For either option, extended periods of work on Vancouver Island should be expected.
Although much of the Nitinat River is accessible by logging roads, hiking in rough terrain with heavy packs and remote camping for several days at a time – in a temperate rainforest – should be expected.
This project is fully funded with a guaranteed $23 000/year in funding for two years.
Associated graduate-level coursework at the UofC is offered in English only.
The ideal candidate should have a strong and demonstrated interest in ecology and evolution, be curious about nature, and be team-oriented.
More details about the Rogers Lab and graduate studies in biology at the UofC can be found at http://people.ucalgary.ca/~srogers/ and https://bio.ucalgary.ca/graduate respectively.
Candidates should direct questions or applications including a cover letter, cv, academic transcripts and the names of two references to Sean Rogers (firstname.lastname@example.org). A search will continue until the position is filled.